Savor the Season: Danish Christmas Red Cabbage Recipe

Welcome to my Danish Christmas Red Cabbage recipe! This dish is a staple of traditional Danish Christmas dinners, and I am excited to share my recipe with you.

Growing up in Denmark, I have fond memories of my family gathering around the dinner table on Christmas Eve to enjoy this sweet and tangy dish. It’s a perfect complement to the roast pork, which is another staple of Danish holiday meals.

This recipe is easy to make and bursting with flavor. The braised red cabbage is cooked in a sweet and sour sauce that includes white vinegar, sugar, and spices. The result is a tender and juicy cabbage that is perfect for any holiday meal.

Whether you are looking to incorporate traditional Danish Christmas traditions into your holiday meal or just want to try something new, this recipe is a must-try. So, let’s dive into the recipe and get cooking!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Danish Christmas Red Cabbage
Danish Christmas Red Cabbage

Looking for a way to spice up your Christmas dinner? Look no further than this Danish Christmas Red Cabbage Recipe! Not only is it a traditional Danish dish, but it’s also a sweet and sour side dish that pairs perfectly with roast pork or any other main course you choose.

One of the reasons you’ll love this recipe is that it’s incredibly easy to make. With just a few simple ingredients and some basic cooking techniques, you can have a delicious and flavorful dish on the table in no time. And if you’re short on time or ingredients, there are plenty of substitutions and variations you can try.

But what really sets this dish apart is its unique flavor profile. The combination of sweet and sour flavors is perfectly balanced, creating a taste that’s both comforting and exciting. The red cabbage adds a beautiful color to your table, and the dish is as healthy as it is tasty.

This recipe is not only a great way to introduce yourself to traditional Danish cuisine, but it’s also a versatile dish that can be enjoyed year-round. It’s perfect for special occasions, but it’s also a great way to add some flavor to your everyday meals.

So why not give this recipe a try? You’ll love the way it tastes and how easy it is to make, and your family and guests will be impressed with your culinary skills.

Ingredient List

Here are the ingredients you will need for this delicious Danish Christmas Red Cabbage recipe:

  • 1 small head red cabbage, cored and shredded (about 2-3 cups)
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • Tough outer leaves of cabbage
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and grated (optional)

The traditional Danish recipe calls for a kilogram of red cabbage, which is about 4 cups, and is usually served during Christmas Eve dinner, along with roast pork or flæskesteg. However, this recipe is adapted for smaller servings, which makes it perfect for a side dish or a salad.

You can also substitute the red cabbage with green cabbage or a combination of both for a twist on the classic Danish rødkål recipe. Additionally, you can add other ingredients such as currant jelly or apple cider vinegar to create a sweet and sour flavor or a Norwegian-inspired purple cabbage salad.

The Recipe How-To

Now that you have gathered all the ingredients, let’s start cooking! Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make the perfect Danish Christmas Red Cabbage:

Preparing the Cabbage

  • Step 1 – Cut the tough outer leaves of the red cabbage and discard them. Cut the cabbage in half, and then cut each half into thin slices.

  • Step 2 – In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the red cabbage and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the cabbage is slightly wilted.

  • Step 3 – Add white vinegar, white sugar, and water. Stir well and bring to a boil.

  • Step 4 – Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and let the cabbage simmer for about 2 hours or until it is tender. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed.

Serving and Pairing

Danish Christmas Red Cabbage is traditionally served as a side dish for roast pork, alongside other Christmas traditions like flæskesteg. It has a sweet and sour taste that complements the meat’s richness. You can also serve it as a salad or a purple cabbage slaw.

Make-Ahead, Storing, and Reheating

Danish Christmas Red Cabbage can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat it in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through. You can also freeze it for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Tips for Perfect Results

  • Tip 1 – If you can’t find Danish red cabbage, you can use regular red or green cabbage instead.

  • Tip 2 – To cut the cabbage finely, use a sharp knife or a mandoline slicer.

  • Tip 3 – Add currant jelly for a more authentic Norwegian twist to the recipe.

  • Tip 4 – If you prefer a healthier version, substitute vegetable oil or apple cider vinegar for the butter and white vinegar.


Q: Can I use a slow cooker for this recipe?

A: Yes, you can. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours.

Q: Can I use purple cabbage instead of red cabbage?

A: Yes, you can. The taste will be slightly different, but it will still be delicious.


Danish Christmas Red Cabbage is a traditional Scandinavian dish that is easy to make and perfect for the holiday season. Its sweet and sour taste complements the richness of roast pork, making it a perfect side dish for Christmas dinner. You can also serve it as a salad or a purple cabbage slaw. Don

Substitutions and Variations

There are many ways to tweak this Danish Christmas Red Cabbage recipe to your liking. For example, you can experiment with the vinegar and sugar ratios to create a more or less sweet and sour flavor. You can also try using different types of vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar, to give the dish a different taste profile.

If you’re looking to make this recipe healthier, you can use less sugar or substitute it with a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup. Additionally, you can replace the butter with vegetable oil or use a dairy-free alternative to make the recipe vegan-friendly.

For those who prefer a more colorful dish, you can mix red cabbage with green cabbage to create a purple cabbage salad. You can also add other ingredients to the recipe, such as diced apples or currant jelly, to give it a unique twist.

If you’re looking for a side dish that pairs well with roast pork, you can serve this braised red cabbage alongside a Norwegian cabbage slaw. This will add a fresh and crunchy texture to your Christmas dinner.

Overall, this recipe is very versatile, and you can adjust it to your liking by experimenting with different ingredients and flavors. Don’t be afraid to get creative and make it your own!

Serving and Pairing

There are many ways to serve and pair Danish Christmas Red Cabbage. Traditionally, this dish is served as a side dish to roast pork (flæskesteg) on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in Denmark. The sweet and sour flavors of the braised red cabbage perfectly complement the rich and savory flavors of the pork.

However, this dish is not just limited to Christmas traditions. It can be enjoyed as a side dish with any roasted or grilled meats, such as beef, chicken, or lamb. The braised red cabbage also pairs well with hearty winter vegetables, like roasted root vegetables or mashed potatoes.

For a healthier option, you can serve the Danish Christmas Red Cabbage as a colorful and flavorful salad. Simply toss the braised cabbage with some fresh greens, like spinach or arugula, and top it off with some toasted nuts and dried fruits. You can also add a drizzle of apple cider or balsamic vinegar for some extra tanginess.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also use the braised red cabbage as a topping for sandwiches or burgers. The sweet and sour flavors of the cabbage can balance out the richness of the meat and cheese. You can also use the cabbage as a filling for wraps or quesadillas for a Scandinavian twist on Mexican cuisine.

No matter how you choose to serve and pair Danish Christmas Red Cabbage, it is sure to be a colorful and flavorful addition to any meal.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

One of the great things about this Danish Christmas Red Cabbage recipe is that it can be made ahead of time and reheated when needed. This is especially helpful when you have a busy holiday schedule and want to make sure everything is ready before your guests arrive.

To make ahead, simply prepare the recipe according to the instructions and let it cool completely. Once cooled, transfer the red cabbage to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

When ready to serve, transfer the red cabbage to a large saucepan and reheat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. You may need to add a splash of water if the cabbage seems too dry.

If you have any leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat, simply transfer the red cabbage to a saucepan and reheat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

It’s important to note that the red cabbage may lose some of its vibrant color when reheated, but it will still taste delicious. If you want to preserve the color, you can add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice before reheating.

Overall, this make-ahead and reheating process makes this dish a convenient and stress-free addition to your holiday menu.

Tips for Perfect Results

Making Danish Christmas Red Cabbage is relatively easy, but there are a few tips to ensure perfect results every time. Here are some of my recommendations:

1. Core and Shred the Cabbage Finely

To prepare the red cabbage, cut off the tough outer leaves, then cut the cabbage in half and remove the core. Shred the cabbage finely, either with a sharp knife or a food processor. The finer the cabbage is shredded, the quicker it will cook and the more tender it will become.

2. Use White Vinegar and White Sugar

White vinegar and white sugar are the traditional ingredients used in Danish Christmas Red Cabbage. They provide a sweet and sour flavor that complements the richness of roasted pork or other meats. While you can use apple cider vinegar or brown sugar, they will alter the flavor of the dish.

3. Add Sugar Gradually

When adding sugar to the cabbage, do it gradually and taste as you go. The amount of sugar needed may vary depending on the sweetness of the cabbage and your personal preference. Start with 1-2 tablespoons and adjust accordingly.

4. Cook the Cabbage Slowly

To get the best flavor and texture from red cabbage, it needs to be cooked slowly over low heat. This will allow the flavors to meld together and the cabbage to become tender. Avoid boiling the cabbage vigorously, as this will make it tough and chewy.

5. Let the Cabbage Rest Before Serving

After the cabbage is done cooking, let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes before serving. This will allow the flavors to fully develop and the cabbage to become even more tender.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your Danish Christmas Red Cabbage comes out perfectly every time. Enjoy this delicious and traditional side dish as part of your holiday meal or any time of the year.


Now that you have the recipe for Danish Christmas Red Cabbage, it’s time to address some frequently asked questions to ensure perfect results. Here are some common concerns and queries I often encounter when preparing this dish.

What is a traditional Danish Christmas meal?

Julefrokost is a festive Christmas lunch celebration that originated in Denmark. This all-day party involves indulging in a variety of delicious foods and beverages. The centerpiece of the feast is Flæskesteg, a succulent roasted pork dish with a crispy skin. In addition, guests can enjoy smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich with various toppings such as fish, potatoes or leverpostej. This traditional lunch is a great way to gather family and friends during the holiday season.

Do you cook red cabbage the same as green cabbage?

When it comes to using cabbage in recipes, both red and green cabbage can be used interchangeably. However, it’s important to note that there is a difference in how these two types of cabbage should be cooked. This is because the compounds that give red cabbage its signature color, known as anthocyanins, are water-soluble and can turn an unappetizing blue color when cooked.

How does Jamie Oliver cook cabbage?

To start, prepare the cabbage by washing and removing any tough stalks. Then, place the leaves in a large pot of boiling salted water and let it cook on medium heat for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender. Once done, drain the water using a colander and let the cabbage cool down.

How do you cook red cabbage and keep the color?

To prepare the cabbage before cooking, it’s essential to remove any wilted or discoloured leaves. Next, cut the cabbage into four equal parts and get rid of the stalks. Once you have done that, chop or shred the leaves into small pieces. It’s important to note that when cooking red cabbage, adding a small amount of vinegar is crucial to maintain its stunning purple hue. Without it, the cabbage will turn an unappetizing shade of blue.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Danish Christmas Red Cabbage recipe is a must-try for anyone who wants to add some Scandinavian flair to their holiday feast. It is a traditional dish that has been enjoyed in Denmark for generations and is now becoming more popular around the world. With its sweet and sour flavors, this braised red cabbage is the perfect side dish for roast pork or any other festive meal.

By following the detailed instructions and tips provided in this recipe article, you can easily make this dish at home and impress your guests with your culinary skills. You can also customize the recipe by adding your own variations and substitutions, depending on your taste and preferences.

So, whether you are a fan of healthy recipes or simply want to try something new, the Danish Christmas Red Cabbage recipe is a must-have in your holiday menu. Give it a try this Christmas Eve and let us know how it turned out. We are sure that you and your loved ones will love it!

Danish Christmas Red Cabbage Recipe

In Denmark it is traditional to serve a cooked pickled red cabbage for the Christmas Eve dinner. This is my grandmother’s, and it is so easy to make and will be a great side dish to any roast duck, turkey or goose. When reheating, I like to add a tablespoon of black currant jam to enhance the flavor.

  • 1 small head red cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups water
  1. Place the cabbage in a large saucepan, and stir in the sugar, vinegar, salt and water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium heat for 1 hour. This can be served immediately, or chilled and reheated later in smaller portions.
Side Dish
< 4 Hours, Christmas, Danish, Easy, European, Greens, Healthy, Inexpensive, Low Cholesterol, Low Protein, Scandinavian, Stove Top, Vegan, Vegetable, Weeknight

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